I have decided to break down the breakdown. This post will cover 1 action building blocks for the Pass, Cut, & Fill layer of offense. There are so many offensive and defensive concepts that can be taught with just one action. Before players are asked to defend multiple actions, they must be taught to defend individual actions. This can also help slow the game down for players offensively. Before worrying about executing a second action, they can learn to take full advantage of individual action.
In the 3, 4, and 5 player building blocks, the idea is that players execute single actions on the coaches command. Coaches may decide to design the drill from the building block in such a way that players stay on the court for more than one action. The idea is that players execute one action and fully complete that action offensively and defensively before they execute the next action.
2 offensive players 1 action
For this introductory building block, players start at two adjacent spots. The player with the ball passes to the other player and cuts to the basket. Coaches can stop the drill right here since that is literally 1 action. However, this can become pretty boring pretty quickly.
I would encourage that the the building block be finished with a pass to the cutter. The receiver delivers a pass to the cutter. Since the receiver passed to the cutter, they should cut.
I know this is a second action. I know this is considered a “Post Pass.” I know we haven’t covered it yet. We won’t really cover post passes until the next layer. However, it’s pretty simple. When you pass, you cut. Right? Not very difficult. Keep it consistent. It will make the next layer easier to learn. I also think it’s important to show players that it is possible to score off of this action. It isn’t that we just Pass & Cut for fun. It is meant to be a scoring option.
A tendency in this very simple building block is that players tend to turn this into a layup drill. This is not a layup drill (even though it’s a good way to work on finishing). This is a Pass & Cut building block. Offensive players should really tune into their spacing, passing, catching, and cutting fundamentals. You may have to teach those skills in some sort of individual breakdown. These small things can make a big difference for players. It’s tough to find time to do everything. It’s up to you to make decisions on what’s most important.
2 offensive players 1 defender 1 action
This is a great building block for teaching a lot of different concepts. The coach just adds a defender to either the passer or the receiver in the previous building block. Coaches can use this building block with “dummy defense” as a way to continue emphasizing offensive skills and concepts, or they can use it to teach defense. For now coaches may want to limit the offensive players options to only passing. We will combine layers later. However, this can be another way to create a 1 on 1 scenario. If the defender is guarding the player with the ball, the ball handler may be given the freedom to attack off the dribble which will help keep the defender honest.
Numerous 1 on 1 offensive concepts can be taught with this building block.
- Making a pass with pressure
- Catching a pass with pressure
- Footwork on the catch
- Footwork on a cut
- Passing to a cutter early in their cut
- Passing to a cutter late in their cut
Numerous 1 on 1 defensive concepts tie in with this layer as well. Of course these concepts may be approached differently based on the location of the offensive players on the court.
- Defending a potential passer
- Defending a potential receiver
- Defending a player who just passed
- Defending a player who just caught a pass
There are numerous ways to design drills around this simple building block to teach and emphasize different skills. It is up to the coach to design the drills that fit in with this building block and their philosophies.
3 offensive players 1 action
This building block is very similar to the 2 offensive player 1 action block except now there is a player available to fill the open spot. With only offensive players and only 1 action, this building block may not be very productive at this time. However, it will become a critical tool when multiple actions and layers are included.
3 offensive players 1 defensive player 1 action
Coaches can use this building block with “dummy defense” as a way to continue emphasizing offensive skills and concepts. However, playing live defense just became more difficult. Previously, the offensive player could only pass one way. It was predictable more for the defense, but this is a good way to teach and drill a defensive skill or concept. Now the defense has at least one more thing to react to. The defender can be on the ball or off the ball. If they are on the ball, they are required to react to the pass in either direction. Coaches can give the ball handler the freedom to attack off of the dribble as well. Once the pass is made, the defender must defend the cutter based on the technique that fits the defensive philosophy of the coach. If defended successfully, the receiver may be instructed to take a shot which now turns the building block into a 1 on 1 rebounding drill.
If the defender is off ball, they may be required to either defend the ball if the pass is made to their player, or get into proper help side position. Of course the offense is now filling spots which forces the defender to now find their proper 1 pass away position again. Do your defenders trail their players and as a result give up Draft Drives? This is a good way to teach them to get in proper off ball position more quickly. When we start adding a second action and combining layers, having this defensive foundation will be important.
3 offensive players 2 defensive players 1 action
This is similar to the last building block. Are your defenders both off ball? Is one on the ball and one off the ball? Remember if they are on ball, you can give the ball handler the freedom to attack. This building block is only one action though. So we’re still breaking things down to the basics. Can your defenders defend one action well even though they don’t know what that action is going to be? I know everyone wants to get to multiple actions with different layers. You want to set screens. You want to include post players. So do I, but we have be able to guard 1 action first. If defenders aren’t in position for the first action, can we expect them to be in position once the offense really starts moving?
3 offensive players 3 defensive players 1 action
You’ve trained different combinations of defensive concepts. Now you can put it all back together in a 3 on 3 scenario. Remember we’re still only working with 1 action. However, this trains the defense to defend a single action regardless of the action and when the action is unpredictable. It also trains the reactions of the offensive players. You can have the two offensive players without the ball start with an empty spot between them and the ball. Then they fill the empty spots to start the action.
4 offensive players 1 action
The addition of a fourth offensive player gives coaches the opportunity to continue to teach players to fill up to the next empty spot. However, using four players also allows coaches to start talking about the concept of waiting to fill if they are more than one pass away. This is a very useful way to set up different attacking options. Those will be covered later, but players can be taught to think about being “patient when they fill.” Then if the ball is passed and there is an open spot between them and they ball, they can fill up.
4 offensive players 1 defender 1 action
This is very similar to the previous single action building blocks, except now there can be a defender 2 passes away. You could use this building block to teach players how to go from 1 pass away to 2 passes away and visa versa. Again, if they can’t defend one action, how can we expect them to defend more than one. I know this building block may seem “dumb” and a waste of time. Maybe it is for most teams. However, I have learned to never assume that a player knows anything. Making sure players know how to defend players with and without the ball based on the position of the ball and their player is important. Coaches may need to break this down to the most basic level using this building block by controlling the pace of the actions.
4 offensive players 2 defenders 1 action
Now we can start teaching defenders how to work together. This could be two off ball defenders or one off ball and one on ball. Only one action is executed at a time, but now players can start to see how the whole defensive picture is going to fit together. Again, coaches may determine that this 1 action building block is unnecessary. Coaches may only use this building block for one or two practices. That’s up to you. It is still interesting to consider how these simple one action building blocks can be used to teach players how to defend. Do defenders execute techniques correctly in these basic building blocks? If not, then how can we expect them to execute them correctly with more layers or more actions involved.
4 offensive players 3 defenders 1 action
We are building on the previous building block by adding a third defender. Again, this may seem unnecessary. It depends on your team and your players. Helping players see how the whole picture is built is important. Players can get lost if the drill is too big. Keeping the number of players small gives the coach less to watch.
4 offensive players 4 defenders 1 action
This could be seen as a basic 4 out defensive shell building block. By limiting the building block to 1 action at a time, coaches can give attention to specific offensive or defensive techniques and details one action at a time. Players can see the whole picture start to come together.
5 players 1 action
We’ve finally arrived. If you’re still reading, I think you probably get the point. I won’t go through all the 5 player 1 action building blocks. I think there are still some value in these single action drills. Maybe I’ll explore this later. Right now, I am going to get into multiple passing actions as well as combining layers in the multiple actions.